Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Egypt Fears Al-Qaeda Threat from Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
- January 4, 2007
Issue of the Week:
What Can Be Done about Iran?
PBS Documentary Explores Reappearance of Anti-Semitism - Tom Tugend (Jewish Journal of Los Angeles)
Sharon Still in Coma in Tel Aviv - Amy Teibel (AP/Washington Post)
Reactions to Saddam's Execution: Indifference Among Arab Regimes (MEMRI)
Israel Mulls Bolstering Arrow Anti-Missile System with U.S. Missile - Ran Dagoni (Globes)
Israeli Foreign Ministry Helps Rescue Israeli Arabs Stuck in Saudi Desert (Israel Today)
Indiana Officials Look to Israel in Preparing for Emergencies - Lesley Stedman Weidenbener (Louisville Courier-Journal)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The Bush administration will provide $86 million to help security forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, expanding U.S. involvement in his struggle with Hamas, according to documents seen on Friday. The U.S. money will be used to "assist the Palestinian Authority presidency in fulfilling PA commitments under the road map (peace plan) to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism and establish law and order in the West Bank and Gaza," according to a U.S. government document. It said Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, the U.S. security coordinator in the region, would implement the program "to strengthen and reform elements of the Palestinian security sector controlled by the PA presidency." Hamas lawmaker Mushir al-Masri accused Washington of helping to mount a "coup" against the Hamas-led government. (Reuters)
The U.S. Treasury Department Thursday imposed financial restrictions on three Syrian institutions suspected of proliferating weapons of mass destruction. The Higher Institute of Applied Science and Technology, the Electronics Institute, and the National Standards and Calibration Laboratory were targeted because of their affiliation with the previously designated Scientific Studies and Research Center. A treasury official, Stuart Levey, said Syria is using official government organizations to develop unconventional weapons and the missiles to deliver them. The Treasury Department has the power to freeze any bank accounts or financial assets belonging to the designated entities in the U.S. (VOA News)
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah held talks on Lebanon's political crisis with Hizbullah deputy chief Sheikh Naim Kassem on Dec. 26 in Jeddah, his first such contact with the Iranian-backed Shi'ite Muslim group, a Lebanese political source said on Wednesday. Saudi Arabia is a major backer of current Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. The two sides discussed rising Sunni-Shi'ite tension in Lebanon, the source said. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
"We don't want nuclear weapons," Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stated Thursday at a meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Sharm e-Sheikh in Egypt. "But since they appear highly present in the area, we must defend ourselves." It now appears that if Iran develops nuclear power, Egypt will no longer be satisfied with devoting its nuclear resources to peaceful purposes alone. "We don't want nuclear arms in the area but we are obligated to defend ourselves. We will have to have the appropriate weapons. It is irrational that we sit and watch from the sidelines when we might be attacked at any moment," Mubarak stated. (Ynet News)
"Civil war" is an apt description for what is now taking place between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza. On Thursday Hamas gunmen assaulted the home of Col. Mohammed Gharib, leader of the Preventive Security force in northern Gaza. Using automatic weapons, missiles, and grenade launchers, the Hamas attackers killed everyone in the house. Hamas gunmen also raided the home of Sufian Abu Zeida, a senior Fatah official and former minister, but he and his family were not home. The attackers were members of Hamas' Executive Force, which answers to Hamas Interior Minister Saeed Sayam. The head of the Executive Force, Yusef al-Zahar, is the brother of Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar. (Ha'aretz)
See also Hamas Attacks Fatah - Live on PA TV - Ali Waked
Gharib was on the phone to Palestine TV just moments before his death and appealed for help as his house came under attack. "They are killers," he said of the Hamas gunmen. "They are targeting the house, children are dying, they are bleeding. For God's sake, send an ambulance." The battle outside the house raged for much of the day and killed four of Gharib's guards and a Hamas gunman. About three dozen people, including eight children, were wounded. (Ynet News)
Gharib's body was found riddled with bullets and mutilated by stab wounds. His two daughters were also killed during the fighting. (Jerusalem Post)
Four Palestinian civilians were killed and 18 were wounded during an IDF operation in Ramallah Thursday afternoon. A special IDF force surrounded a building in which wanted Palestinians were hiding. During the operation, as four wanted Palestinians were arrested, Palestinians fired at the soldiers and hurled stones and Molotov cocktails. (Ynet News)
Palestinians from Gaza launched two Kassam rockets toward Israel Friday morning. One rocket landed inside the town of Sderot and caused damage to a few homes. The second rocket landed near a kibbutz in the western Negev. (Ynet News)
As former adviser to the defense minister on humanitarian and quality of life issues relating to the Palestinian civilian population in the West Bank and Gaza, Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Baruch Spiegel prepared a master plan for reducing the number of military checkpoints and roadblocks in the West Bank. Earlier this week, the government approved the first stage of the plan, which calls for the removal of 27 roadblocks. "Ultimately, only when the [security] barrier is completed...can we ease up. Everyone must understand that one of the reasons there are no terror attacks these days is that they are under pressure inside [the West Bank]." (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Last year, I had the privilege to join President Carter's conflict resolution task team to assist it in the worthy goal of "waging peace." The opportunity to facilitate dialogues between warring parties in conflicts outside of the scope of the Israeli-Arab conflict was a tremendous experience. It convinced me that a goodwill ambassador could actually play a constructive role in facilitating the reconciliation of two enemies. Unfortunately, Mr. Carter's last publication is in total contradiction to this notion. The book completely contradicts all that I was taught about conflict resolution at the Carter Center.
By entirely ignoring the countless examples of Palestinian rejection of Israel, inadmissible involvement in terror, and the culture of hatred promoted by the Palestinian Authority, the reader is expected to see Israel as the key party responsible for the conflict. Carter chooses to ignore the fact that the Palestinians have never implemented the first point of the road map agreement, which said that a two-state solution "will only be achieved through an end to violence and terrorism, when the Palestinian people have a leadership acting decisively against terror and willing and able to build a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty." The PA has consistently said it has no intention to fulfill its promise to dismantle terrorist organizations or to confiscate illegal weapons.
I was especially offended when Mr. Carter equated the "ejection" of Palestinians from their homes to the Indians in Georgia being forced out to make room for "our white ancestors." Mr. Carter deliberately chose to ignore that Jews, unlike his ancestors, were always living in their homeland and that the Palestinians were not ejected, but rather most fled during the battles of the 1947-49 war provoked by the Arab rejection of UN partition Resolution 181. (Washington Times)
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is making another trip to the Middle East seeking a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian tussle. Her influence and expertise are so minimal, there's not a snowball's chance in Gaza she can do it. Rice has nothing to show for her infrequent forays into the Holy Land. ''How long have American secretaries of state been shuttling back and forth trying to get a Palestinian state?'' she ponders. "Has it ever worked?'' In November, while President Bush conferred with Arab leaders in Amman, on his orders Rice dashed over to Israel where she spent a half hour with Abbas, praising him as one ''who supports resolving the conflict peacefully'' at the very moment Palestinian terrorists rained rockets on southern Israel. (Miami Herald)
Even though it has been years since Hizbullah has kidnapped or physically harmed Western journalists, some may be afraid to rile up an Iranian proxy militia that is listed by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization. Hizbullah informed me that I'm officially blacklisted (meaning they will no longer give me interviews or even quotes) for what I have written about them in the past. The contrast between average Lebanese and Hizbullah's official party members and elite is extraordinary. Most of the people of Lebanon are instinctively decent on a personal level no matter their political views or ideology. Hizbullah itself, though, is instinctively menacing and hostile and belligerent. Their ideology is an alien one, imported from the East, from the extremist regime in Tehran. If they ever end up as rulers of Lebanon - and it will surely mean war if they try - Lebanon will no longer be recognizable. The writer is based in Beirut, Lebanon. His work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Reason, LA Weekly, Beirut's Daily Star and Tech Central Station. (michaeltotten.com)
30 Quebec university students traveled from one end of Israel to the other in ten days. We talked with scholars, journalists, students, politicians and activists from all corners of the Israeli political spectrum. Israel is a fascinating country. Its people are friendly, knowledgeable, Westernized - and most of all, tolerant. They have an amazing sense of purpose and resilience in the face of daily threats to their very existence.
Israel must be supported. I have no problem saying this as someone who is of partly Palestinian ancestry. Israel is a democratic, pluralistic Western outpost in the middle of a cesspool of tyranny and despair. After all the terror and the two intifadas, it was amazing to see and hear so many Israelis still so committed to peace and willing to do just about anything to achieve it. If the Palestinians and their leadership would truly recognize Israel's right to exist tomorrow, I have little doubt a state would follow very soon. This is the sense I got from almost every Israeli we talked to. Everyone wants peace, but it takes two to tango. The peace partner on the other side is simply not there.
If more people visited Israel, I think more people would understand the need for vigilance and to stand up to wrongness and evil. War is ugly, but there are situations in the world in which no other option exists. Sometimes war is necessary to bring peace. The writer, a Canadian author and journalist, is currently studying law at Laval University in Quebec City. (daifallah.com)
Fish farming in the desert may at first sound like an anomaly, but in Israel over the last decade a scientific hunch has turned into a bustling business. Israeli scientists found that brackish water drilled from underground desert aquifers hundreds of feet deep could be used to raise warm-water fish. The geothermal water, less than one-tenth as saline as sea water, free of pollutants and a toasty 98 degrees on average, proved an ideal match. "We should consider arid land where subsurface water exists as land that has great opportunities," said Professor Samuel Appelbaum, a fish biologist at the Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, who pioneered the concept of desert aquaculture in Israel in the late 1980s.
Farmers use the water in which the fish are raised to irrigate their crops. The organic waste produced by the fish acts as fertilizer for the crops. Fields watered by brackish water dot Israel's Negev and Arava Deserts in the south, where they spread out like green blankets against a landscape of sand dunes and rocky outcrops. (New York Times)
There have been major developments in the role of Jewish women in the U.S. over the past four decades in many areas of Jewish life. The study of rabbinics and classical Jewish texts is open to women. Women have risen to public leadership of the Jewish community more completely. The enfranchisement of Jewish women has greatly enriched American Jewish life. Prof. Rela Mintz Geffen is president of Baltimore Hebrew University and served as dean for academic affairs at Gratz College in Philadelphia. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Bringing Ahmadinejad to Justice - Irwin Cotler (Ha'aretz)
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